Saturday, January 09, 2010

EU To Consult Fiji Over Human Rights Concern

8 January 2010

The Commission today proposed the opening of Consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, the Agreement between the EU and 76 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. This move reflects continuing concern about the situation in Fiji regarding human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, and could ultimately lead to the suspension of EU cooperation with Fiji.

The Commission today proposed the opening of Consultations under the Agreement between the EU and 76 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement). This move reflects continuing concern about the situation in Fiji regarding human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, and could ultimately lead to the suspension of EU cooperation with Fiji. The proposal will now be discussed by the 27 Member States of the European Union.

Commissioner responsible for Development, Humanitarian Aid and Relations with Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific States, Louis Michel i, said: "I have proposed to the EU Member States to take this step because of human rights abuses, breach of democratic principles and lack of respect for the rule of law. With the welfare of the people of Fiji in mind, we hope that the situation can be remedied through consultations and that we can avoid suspension of our cooperation."

Fiji suffered a military take-over on 5 th December 2006. The military take-over was neither legal nor constitutional and represents a major backward step for democracy in Fiji. It is damaging to its institutions, its economy, its social situation and its international standing.

It has been universally condemned, including by the EU which on 11 December 2006 stated: "The Council condemns the military takeover in Fiji and the removal of the democratically elected Government. It deplores the actions by Commodore Bainimarama and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) in deposing the Prime Minister and assuming executive control of the country. The Council calls for the urgent and full restoration of democracy as well as return of civilian rule as soon as possible."

Fiji is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the European Union. Article 9(2) of this Agreement lays down the essential elements of our partnership. They are respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. Following the military take-over Fiji is in serious breach of the essential elements of the Cotonou Agreement.

Art 96 of the Cotonou Agrement notably foresees that if a Party considers that the other Party fails to fulfil an obligation stemming from respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, the situation is to be thoroughly examined with a view to seeking solution acceptable to the Parties. To this end, it shall invite the other Party to hold consultations that focus on the measures taken or to be taken by the Party concerned to remedy the situation.

In case eventual consultations do not lead to an acceptable solution, appropriate measures may be taken. These could include partial or even full suspension of cooperation. Before the military take-over took place, EC aid to Fiji was due to increase very significantly in order to support the sugar sector reform.

The EU remains firmly committed to the welfare of the people of Fiji, and even more so in this dark hour. In case of a convincingly positive outcome of the coming consultations regarding early restoration of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, suspension of cooperation may be avoided, and support for remedial measures could be considered.

1 comment:

Luvei Viti (Children of Fiji) said...

Sai,
Thanks for your heads up on this important topic. Do you know who is the source of this story?
When you do would you be able to email it thorugh to us lsecretariat.luveiviticommunity2gmail.com
Vinaka
Luvei Viti Think Tank@myvuw